Oakland (20-15) at Utah State (20-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 25, 6:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270) -- Logan, Utah. Television: None. CIT Record: Oakland 4-1, Utah State 3-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: With a spot in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament championship game on the line, the Utah State Aggies welcome the Oakland Golden Grizzlies to Logan for semifinal action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The winner of this contest will take on the Mercer Bears for the tournament title on Wednesday.
Greg Kampe's Golden Grizzlies had won two straight Summit League championships heading into this season, but failed to make it three in a row, instead settling for third place in the conference. However, with 17 wins on the year, the team was still able to secure its fourth straight postseason bid. The Grizzlies had the homecourt advantage through the first three rounds of this event, capturing wins over Bowling Green (86-69), Buffalo (84-76) and most recently, Rice (77-70). Oakland is making its second appearance in this event and now has a record of 4-1 in the CIT.
Utah State has been a picture of consistency and with last week's win over Loyola Marymount (77-69), the Aggies recorded their 13th straight 20-win season. The Aggies have also enjoyed home cooking throughout this tournament, posting earlier wins over CSU Bakersfield (75-69) and Idaho (76-56) prior to the eight-point win over the Lions in Logan.
This marks the first time these two teams have met on the hardwood.
Star guard Reggie Hamilton was once again the driving force in the victory over the Owls last week, as the 5-11 senior erupted for 30 points, including a perfect 14-of-14 from the free-throw line to pace all scorers. Corey Petros poured in 16 points, Drew Valentine added 13 and Ryan Bass chipped in 10 for the Golden Grizzlies, who shot a modest .429 from the floor overall but made up for it by outscoring Rice 25-7 at the charity stripe.
Scoring points has not been a problem for Oakland this season, as the Golden Grizzlies rank seventh nationally in scoring at 79.8 ppg. The three-pointer is a big part of the overall success, as the team ranks third nationally in three-pointers per game (9.2). Oakland continues to build on its Summit League record of three-pointers made, now sitting at 322 on the year. Hamilton an All-Summit First-Team member, enters this contest as the nation's leading scorer (26.3 ppg). The veteran has set the conference single-season scoring mark (919 pts). Travis Bader is a viable second option at the offensive end at 15.7 ppg. Hamilton and Bader are quite the one-two punch from long range, combining for 234 of the team's 322 three-pointers thus far. Valentine (11.4 ppg) rounds out the double-digit scoring threats and teams up with Petros (8.8 ppg) to give the team a couple of productive rebounders (7.1 rpg each).
Neither team shot the ball particularly well and both squads were lackadaisical with their ball-handling, but Utah State found a way to get the job done and advance into the semifinals over Loyola Marymount. The Aggies committed a whopping 22 turnovers and shot just under 40 percent from the floor overall, but survived thanks to their huge advantage at the free-throw line, going an efficient 32-of-35, while the Lions were a mere 7-of-14. Preston Medlin led the way with 26 points, thanks in large part to his 13- of-14 effort from the charity stripe. Brockeith Pane added 17 points to the cause, while Morgan Grim finished with 16.
The Aggies do not overwhelm opponents with gaudy offensive numbers. Instead, the team gets the job done efficiently, averaging a modest 68.0 ppg on 47.1 percent shooting. Medlin (16.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.4 apg) has been the leader, as the 6-4 sophomore possesses a strong all-around game, including his three- point acumen, where he has delivered on 42.6 percent from beyond the arc (89- of-202). Pane (12.4 ppg, 4.1 apg) is second in scoring, but like Medlin, has found other ways to contribute as well, leading the team in assists. Kyisean Reed (10.0 ppg) and Grim (8.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) provide additional options at the offensive end.
Winning in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum doesn't come easy for road teams. The Golden Grizzlies certainly have the firepower to get the job done, but the Aggies know a thing or two about winning games also and should earn the win here, providing they can somewhat contain Hamilton.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 73, Oakland 71
03/25 10:32:44 ET